FIELD & FOREST

arugula

roasted cauliflower and figs with burrata, mizuna, and almonds

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, salads, winter, vegetarianRachel SandersComment

OMG I'M ALIVE.

Cue blogger apologizing to readers about how sorry she is that she took a break from blogging and that she didn't mean to be away so long blah blah blah.

I am sorry not sorry about being away for so long. There is a good reason, I promise, and all will be revealed (dramatically waves hands) in the next post. I just popped back in because my email let me know that my readership exploded last weekend, and I wanted to say hello to all of you folks old and new. Hello! I'm still figuring out how you all found me, but in spite of how infrequently Field and Forest has been updated as of late, I'm here! I still like talking about/writing about/photographing/eating food! And I appreciate you being here, too!

Here's a present from the archives of recipes and photographs on my computer in the form of a fall salad. I have been a little perturbed by the way in which people have been talking about salads on some food websites as of late, like how "you shouldn't balk at this salad, I promise it is delicious!" Stop. Talking. About. Salads. Like. They. Are. Not. Amazing. And like you think people won't believe you if you talk about how amazing salads are. SALADS ARE AWESOME. Always have been. Always will be.

And full disclosure: the photo of this salad is of a salad with mozzarella, not burrata. Burrata is noticeably creamier (and messier), and I think this recipe came from a time when life was messy and I needed to photograph something neat and reliable. But, if you can get it, burrata is a knock-your-socks-off luxurious addition to this salad and very much worth the mess.

roasted cauliflower with figs, burrata, mizuna, and almonds

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND FRESH FIGS WITH
BURRATA, MIZUNA, AND ALMONDS
serves 4 for a light meal or hearty side salad

Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Spread the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss with your hands to evenly coat the florets. Roast in the oven, stirring once or twice, until crispy and evenly golden (10-20 minutes depending on the size of your florets). Set aside to cool.

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown, stirring frequently so that they don't burn. Set aside to cool.

Wash and slice figs into whatever shapes you prefer (wedges, halves, rounds). Slice mozzarella or burrata into enough slices that everyone has an equal amount of cheese on their plate (I've been using 6 slices for 2 people, and 8 slices for 4 people); if you are using especially creamy burrata, you may have an easier time cutting it in half, then in half again to make 4 quarters.

To plate: place the cheese on 4 plates, then divide your mizuna or arugula evenly over the cheese. Top with the cauliflower florets and sliced figs. Scatter the toasted almonds over the vegetables, fruit, and cheese. Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, and top each salad with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt and a grind or two of black pepper. Serve immediately.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
Extra virgin olive oil (for roasting the cauliflower and dressing the salad)
1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1 pound ripe figs
1 pound burrata or buffalo milk mozzarella
a couple of handfuls of mizuna, arugula, or other peppery salad green
aged balsamic vinegar
flaky salt
freshly ground black pepper

mixed citrus salad with champagne vinaigrette and pistachios

dinner, lunch, salads, vegetarian, winter, veganRachel SandersComment
(Yeah, not a photo of SLC in January... but more depictive of how I feel today than the dreary/smoggy/old-snow reality!)

(Yeah, not a photo of SLC in January... but more depictive of how I feel today than the dreary/smoggy/old-snow reality!)

I woke up this morning before everyone else (ish, Lucca woke up when I moved in bed and sneezed in my face before falling back asleep... Happy New Year!) and got up and walked into a clean kitchen and had this weird sense of deja-vu and warm fuzzies that I remember feeling when we put our first set of matching dishes into our cabinets shortly after we got married, where I would frequently open the cabinets and stand with my hands on my hips and look at the neat stacks of plates and bowls and think "this is very nice."

There is something so welcoming and calm about a clean kitchen in the morning. Richard and I hosted friends for dinner two nights in a row this past week, and in spite of the late evenings and multiple dishes, we've made a considerable effort to not leave anything to clean up the morning after (major props to Richard for pulling some serious dish-washing weight, and also for convincing me months ago that a mechanical dishwasher was a worthy investment - holy cow, was he right). And so instead of waking up in a post-gathering malaise and having to do more dishes first thing in the morning, we wake up, walk into a sparkling kitchen, make coffee, read, listen to podcasts, and then get to work/projects/Lucca-wearing-out. It has been lovely.

I realize the Gregorian calendar is a human construct and in geological time, the world doesn't really give two figs whether it is 2016 or 2017, but there is something that feels similarly fresh and new when we move from one year to the next. It is like shedding a skin or the feeling you get when you brush your teeth after eating corn-on-the-cob. An "oooh yes, I needed that, now I can get on with things" kind of feeling.

There were some very high highs and some rather low lows this year. I cannot lie and say that I'm looking at 2017 without some considerable concern for our country and our planet. I don't think that you can have a food blog or think/write/talk about food without considering greater issues at hand. I think about Syria each time I use Aleppo pepper flakes. I wonder about the speed/progression of climate change when I buy avocados at the grocery store. I consider the connections between some synthetic pesticides and Parkinson's disease, which afflicted my grandmother later in life, when I look at the costs of conventionally grown v. organically grown cane sugar. I think I look very frowny when I go food shopping. What can I say! I have a lot of serious thoughts in the grocery store.

But I also like to think that when we grab the minty-fresh feelings of a new year by the nads, we can make active, if often small, changes that create larger positive ripple effects throughout the next twelve months of our lives. Maybe this is the year you start calling your parents on a regular basis. Maybe this is the year you buy an electric car or take public transportation twice (or more!) a week. Maybe this is the year that you make the lunches you bring to work, instead of getting takeout all of the time. Maybe this is the year that you eat less meat, but get the sustainably and humanely raised (and super delicious) stuff whenever possible. Maybe this is the year that you volunteer for a cause you care about deeply, or donate money to help people in crisis far away. Maybe you start making choco-tacos and giving them to strangers, because you can! I don't know. But I bet there's something you've considered doing and ended up thinking, "eh, I'll do it later," or "maybe next year." Do it now!

I have some larger "I want to do this thing this year" thoughts for another post, but right now I'm working on being more brave. I want to stand up for people and things that I care about more. I want to take more risks, both personally and professionally. I want to act out of joy instead of fear whenever possible. Maybe you're good at this and you're thinking "well, that's not so hard." That is awesome for you! It is hard for me. I am working on it. I am not perfect. I'll probably fail a number of times, but at least I'm giving it a go. Maybe you'll forget your homemade lunch at home and break your lunch-bringing streak with some In-n-Out. It's cool. Hop back on the homemade lunch horse the next day. We're all human and we're all trying.

And now we come to the point of the post where I try to transition larger thoughts into a recipe and today I'm drawing a blank. Blah. Oh well! There's a salad here that is juicy and quenching and colorful and probably what your bod wants after a month of cookies and cakes and latkes and roasted meats and gravy and candy canes. It's easily scaled, so keep in mind that I would happily eat this recipe in its entirety before you choose your number of citrus units. Otherwise, it probably feeds 2-3 if you have other stuff happening on the side (photo context clues: like bread).

Much love in 2017 (and always). 💕

caracaranavelbloodorangesalad.jpg

makes enough salad for 1 Rachel or 2-3 normal people

Cut the citrus into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place rounds onto a plate or serving dish, alternating the types of citrus if you wish. Set aside.

Place the red onion into a medium bowl, and add a few splashes of champagne vinegar to just barely cover the onion. Add a pinch of salt and miix briefly, then let sit for 5-10 minutes to marinate. Whisk in a small glug (a tablespoon-ish) of olive oil, and taste the dressing with a leaf or arugula or spinach. (I like my dressing slightly bright because the citrus can be sweet, but add more olive oil if you prefer your dressing to be more mellow).

Add the arugula and/or spinach to the bowl, and gently toss with your hands to coat the leaves with the dressing. Arrange the leaves over the citrus rounds so that you can still see citrus peeking out around the edge of your serving dish. Give it a quick twist or two of black pepper (not too much, please) sprinkle with the pistachios and serve immediately.

A 3-unit mix of citrus (I used a cara-cara orange, a navel orange, and a blood orange), peeled
a scant 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
champagne (or white balsamic) vinegar
kosher salt
olive oil
2 handfuls of arugula or spinach
, or a mixture of both
black pepper
roasted pistachios (alternately, roasted almonds) coarsely chopped

pantry flatbread with arugula and aleppo pepper

autumn, breads, breakfast, dinner, lunch, main dishes, snacks, spring, winterRachel SandersComment

In the beginning of many cookbooks, there is a chapter with no pictures where the chef/author talks about the foods they like to keep on hand at any given time, how to stock a pantry properly, etc. Sometimes they'll go over unique ingredients - what they are, where to find them, why you should use them - or pieces of equipment that they can't live without that they've added to their finely curated list of kitchen gadgetry. Or maybe they'll talk a bit about their process - how they clean as they cook, or how they write out recipes on post-its that they stick on the counter while they work. The abundance of care and work that go into creating this pantry/equipment/process chapter is obvious. You know? Don't you usually read this section?

Yeah, me neither. I want to look at the pretty pictures already.

But when I went to see family for Thanksgiving, I ended up going to a spice shop I've been wanting to check out for a while and subsequently dropped a fair amount of cash on some spices I've been having trouble finding (and some that I have never seen before but am so excited to use). And then I came home to our hap-hazard pantry with its crazy amount of beans and nearly empty boxes of pasta, and thought "This is no place for my spices!" So I cleaned out the shelves, reorganized everything, and took note of stuff that was about to run out, and I now have a well-oiled pantry machine. I didn't expect that it would have a profound effect on my efficiency and enjoyment of cooking, but it did! It is crazy! I have joined the Clean Pantry Cult and I am going to prosthelytize to anyone who will listen!!

One of these days I'll write a post on the things that are in my pantry (there will be pictures, promise), but let's talk about this flatbread for a moment. I get most excited by foods with flavor contrasts (salty/sweet, rich/bright, etc.), and I wanted to bring that kind of excitement to this recipe so that it didn't feel like an "I don't know what to make for dinner" kind of a meal (which it most definitely was). It worked sort of like this:

If I ever publish a cookbook, there will be a lot of Venn diagrams (which will probably break up the text a bit in my pantry section, which y'all had better read).

There are so many ingredients that fall into each of these categories (I even listed a few more than I put on the flatbread), so don't feel like you have to limit yourself to what I did, especially because the whole point of this thing is to utilize stuff you have on hand! Just grab a prepared crust or some pizza dough and something bright and fresh on your way home from work, and you'll have a tasty, simple, and homemade meal in the time it takes to order a pizza.

(A quick pantry tip: buy things that you use frequently every time you go to the store, whether you need them immediately or not! I do this with onions, sweet potatoes, and lemons, because I use them multiple times throughout the week, if not every day. And I'll usually also buy some arugula or spinach every week because a pop of green easily takes something from blah to beautiful.)

pantry flatbread

Makes 1 flatbread; serves 4 as a light main, or 6-8 as an appetizer/snack

Aleppo pepper flakes are different from the standard red pepper flakes you can find in the spice aisle, and they are certainly different from the packets that come when you order a pizza to go. Instead of punching the inside of your mouth with heat, these flakes are bright, tart, and pleasantly warming. I don't know if this reflects a level of quality, but the flakes I purchased are also just pepper flakes, with no included seeds. You can find them at specialty stores or online, and a little jar will last you for quite some time.

Also, keep in mind that this is not a pizza, so there is no ooey-gooey-cheesy base holding all of the ingredients on board. Some things will bake together, and some things will be looser. If you want a more cohesive flatbread, omit the olive oil that you drizzle over the dough and replace it with a generous smear of creme fraîche.


1 pound pizza or flatbread dough (I grabbed a container of prepared dough at Whole Foods)
olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced from top to tail
1/4 cup white wine (optional) or water
kosher salt
4 oz bacon, sliced into lardons
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, torn in half with your fingers
4 oz feta cheese (I used goat's milk feta)
flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)
a couple of handfuls of arugula
Aleppo pepper or other red pepper flakes


About an hour before you want to bake the flatbread, remove the dough from the refrigerator to proof and come to room temperature (it will bake more evenly and be much, much easier to work with).

Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium low heat, and add a generous swig of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan). Add the onions to the oil and sauté, stirring frequently, until they soften and begin to become translucent. Add the white wine and a pinch of kosher salt to the pan and cook for another 2-5 minutes, until the wine has evaporated and the onions are quite limp, but not falling apart. (Note: you do not need to caramelize them to a darker color unless that is what you want; I happen to like some of the brighter purple on the flatbread, and they'll get a little charred anyway during baking.) Remove the onions to a small bowl and set aside.

Place the pan back over the heat and add the bacon lardons. Cook, watching closely (and occasionally stirring), until the lardons are just barely cooked and beginning to get crispy edges. Remove the lardons to a paper towel-lined plate and drain.

Remove the pizza dough from its container and stretch with your hands, pizza parlor style. Don't worry about it being perfect or crazy-thin! Rustic looks best here, so just stretch it as much as you can without tearing the dough.

Place the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and drizzle the dough with a little olive oil. Spread the onions over the dough, and scatter with the bacon and olives. Crumble the feta cheese over the bacon and olives. Gently press the toppings into the dough, just enough to help them stick to the surface while baking (not so much that the dough envelops them and they cannot be seen).

Bake at 425˚F until the dough is fully cooked and the onions at the edge of the dough are crisp and a little charred, about 20-25 minutes (check after 20 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes, then top with a couple of handfuls of arugula, and some generous pinches of flaky salt and Aleppo pepper flakes.

mujaddara, summer edition (with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, and lemon)

breakfast, dinner, lunch, main dishes, salads, summer, vegetarianFieldandForestComment

What can I say about mujaddara...

If Mujaddara were a person, and I took him as my +1 to a party, he would not necessarily be the most attractive person there, or the tallest, or the most athletic, but he would be the snappiest dresser and get along with everyone and he would be an amazing dancer and he would tell the funniest jokes and everyone would be like, "oh, Mujaddara, you're so funny," and Mujaddara would be all "I know, right?" but not in a narcissistic way, because that's just not the kind of person Mujaddara is.

And, if this was your party, Mujaddara would also stay late to help you wash the dishes, and maybe drive the random dude that passed out on your carpet back to wherever he came from (which is likely across town because it is a law of the universe that a random dude will always pass out an inconveniently far distance from his house) and give him a box of saltines and a ginger ale from the stash that Mujaddara keeps in his car for just such occasions, because Mujaddara doesn't care who you are, he just wants you to feel great.

Mujaddara is pretty much the perfect addition to any party, and you would be happy to have met him. He would have helped you to have a great time, and you would invite him back in the future. And I would probably be in your good graces for bringing Mujaddara along in the first place.

Mujaddara
Serves 4-6 as a vegetarian main course, or 8-12 as a side dish

I like bringing things like Mujaddara to potlucks and collaborative dinner parties, because you just never know what's going to be at a potluck. I have been to a dinner potluck where every person (including me!) brought cheese and crackers. Let's not do that again! This dish will quickly serve as either a hearty side or vegetarian main dish, seamlessly filling any gap in your dinner party. Not to mention that it tastes fantastic at room temperature, making it the perfect dish for picnics or events where the official meal time is unclear. It's just the best!

Cooking notes: you can make this with any kind of rice or leftover rice, but jasmine has a really nice flavor for this dish. Cooking the jasmine rice with a glug of olive oil will help the grains remain separate, which means they can be more easily mixed with the lentils and onions.

2 cups cooked beluga lentils (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 cups cooked jasmine rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 medium yellow onions, caramelized (instructions below)
1 cup cooked greens (I sautéed some finely sliced kale leaves in olive oil and garlic), optional
salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1 pint mixed cherry, grape, and/or pear tomatoes, roasted (instructions below), and divided
1/3 cup chopped pistachios, divided
2 ounces soft goat cheese (I used chevre)
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
Piment d'espelette or hot paprika, to taste (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the lentils, rice, caramelized onions, and greens. Add salt and lemon juice to taste, and mix gently using your hands (so you don't break the rice grains). This lentil/rice/onion combo is what is known as Mujaddara.

Add half of the roasted cherry tomatoes and half of the pistachios to the bowl, again mixing gently with your hands to combine. Transfer to a serving dish. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dish for up to 3 days. (The pistachios will soften a bit during this time, but the dish will still be very tasty.)

Just before serving, scatter the remaining roasted tomatoes and pistachios over the Mujaddara, then crumble the goat cheese over the tomatoes and pistachios. Finely chiffonade the basil leaves, and scatter them over the Mujaddara. Finish with a sprinkle of piment d'espelette or hot paprika for color and heat.

For basic caramelized onions: peel and halve the onions, and thinly slice from top to tail. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium low heat, and add the onions, tossing to evenly coat them in the fat. Cook over medium low heat until their texture is meltingly soft, about 15-20 minutes. Once soft, sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and crank up the heat to medium-high. Keep an eye on the onions and stir frequently, allowing them to brown and color. Once the onions are a deep amber in color, deglaze the pan with a little water (or white wine) to scrape up any tasty caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the water cook most of the way off (the onions may still look slightly wet), and transfer to a bowl to cool. The onions may be made up to a day in advance of making the Mujaddara.

For the roasted tomatoes: preheat the oven to 400˚F. Halve the tomatoes, and place in a single layer on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and gently toss with your hands to evenly coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are slightly wrinkled and reduced in size. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. The tomatoes are best roasted on the day that you plan to make the Mujaddara.

Other serving ideas: - top with chicken or steak kabobs for a heartier dinner - top with a fried egg, avocado, and hot sauce for breakfast or brunch (I do this with Mujaddara leftovers) - add roasted or grilled squash or replace the cooked greens with arugula (added just before serving).

(On an unrelated note, can we all agree that my friend Vanessa has the most amazing wine stopper you have ever seen?)

buckwheat bowl

salads, spring, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment

We had some mixed reviews on this dish in our household.  I think that cooked buckwheat can sometimes have a bit of a slimy texture, similar to okra; some people like/don't mind this, while others aren't huge fans.  That said, it has a nicely nutty flavor and light texture that make it an ideal base for more substantial counterparts.

Feel free and sub whatever is in season or in your refrigerator, though including something with a little bite (here, the red onion) with some cheese and nuts will really add another dimension to your bowl; you can also change your grain base to something like barley or quinoa if you're not stoked on buckwheat.  In case you need inspiration for a variation, I think I'll be trying this again with fresh figs, arugula, goat cheese, and balsamic in a few weeks. :)

Buckwheat Bowl

I'm going to give you an elemental breakdown of this recipe, since really this is just piling a bunch of stuff on top of some kind of grain in a bowl.  I hereby give you creative license to throw in whatever feels right to you in any/all of the outlined categories, and I promise to post further winning combinations as we test them ourselves.

Grain: buckwheat
Cheese: sheep's milk feta
Roughage: arugula, sliced raw beets, apple/celery root/onion slaw (made by thinly slicing each ingredient and mixing with lemon juice and a tiny bit of oil), avocado
Legume: chickpeas
Nut: walnuts